Used 1999 Volkswagen GTI

1999 Volkswagen GTI
List price range

Pros

  • Fun to drive, comfortable ride, hatchback utility, solid construction, lots of standard features, generous 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty.

Cons

  • Weak base engine, softer than other sport coupes/hatchbacks, some controls hard to decipher, CD player should be standard.

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Edmunds' Expert Review

vehicle overview

The third- and fourth-generation GTIs are descendants of the wonder car that started the pocket rocket trend almost two decades ago -- the Volkswagen Rabbit GTI. The first GTIs were fun to drive and inexpensive to buy, but unfortunately, costly to maintain and repair. Nevertheless, this sporty hatchback earned a loyal niche of fans, who claimed that once you found a good VW mechanic, you could reap the benefits of an exclusive club. Through the end of the 1990s, we hadn't heard many horror stories about maintenance costs involving the third-generation Golf-based GTI (1995-1999), and the overall staff consensus is that this would be a rewarding car to own and drive. However, the Golf will undergo a complete redesign in 1999, so that means an entirely new GTI as well.

Both generations will be sold as 1999 models, but the new version is easily the better choice. Advantages include greater structural rigidity, which yields tighter body panel fits and improved handling characteristics; engine and suspension upgrades; more standard equipment and a more stylish interior (replete with VW's signature blue and red backlighting at night) furnished with a more comfortable driver seat. Further, the new GTI has a slightly longer and wider body and rides on a longer wheelbase; the result is more interior head- and legroom and another cubic foot of cargo space.

VW will sell just one version of the third-generation GTI in 1999 -- the VR6. This spunky hatchback is powered by a compact, 172-horsepower 2.8-liter six-cylinder paired with a five-speed manual transmission; an automatic is not available. Standard features include four-wheel antilock disc brakes, a sport-tuned suspension, 15-inch wheels with 205/50 tires, traction control, air conditioning, cruise control, a stereo with cassette player, a power sunroof, keyless entry with alarm system and power windows, locks and mirrors. Options include side airbags, leather upholstery and a single-disc CD player or six-disc changer.

The fourth-generation GTI will be sold in two trim levels -- GLS and GLX. For those concerned about fuel economy and monthly payments, the base 115-horsepower 2.0-liter inline four returns -- under the hood of the GTI GLS -- though a new cross-flow cylinder head allows drivers to access the engine's horsepower and 122 pound-feet of torque lower in the rpm range. You can choose either a manual or automatic, though fuel economy is nothing to write home about with either transmission (24 mpg city/31 mpg highway versus 22/28). Instead, we would happily steer you toward the GLX -- this gives you the spreadably smooth VR6, which gets a new intake manifold, allowing it to generate 174 hp and 8 more pound-feet of torque (for a total of 181) at a much lower rpm (3,200 vs. 4,200 in the old GTI). As before, a five-speed manual is your only transmission choice with the VR6. If you're looking for something to bridge the gap between the weak four and the enthusiast-oriented six, just wait until the 2000 model year when VW offers its 150-hp 1.8T engine for the GLS.

The GTI GLS basically has all of the standard equipment that the old GTI VR6 has, except that side airbags are now standard and a leather-wrapped steering wheel (complimentary on the VR6) is now optional. Also, the GLS wears modest 195/65R15 tires mounted on five-spoke alloys. The options list also includes an automatic transmission, leather upholstery, seat heaters and a CD player or changer. The GLX comes standard with heated leather seats and more appropriate 16-inch wheels and 205/55 tires, but you still have to pay extra to get a CD player.

Endowed with a sport suspension, a communicative steering setup and strong brakes, the GTI holds its own when two-lane roads turn twisty. And if you select the GLX, you'll get to enjoy the VR6's broad powerband during hard runs on meandering mountain passes. But as most enthusiasts know, the GTI is softer than other sport coupes and hatchbacks on the market. While this may not please those who demand all-out performance, anyone who needs a comfortable daily driver will appreciate the GTI's more subdued demeanor.

Though solidly constructed, the GTI doesn't have quite the reliability record of competitors like the Acura Integra, Honda Prelude and Toyota Celica, so Volkswagen is offering a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty to ease concerns. The basic warranty, 2 years/24,000 miles, is still weak by industry standards, however. The GTI offers a lot of standard content compared to the competition, which we like. But unless you're after the VR6, you'd do better to wait for next year's 1.8T engine option.

Top consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the 1999 Volkswagen GTI.

no probs
m j, 1/21/2009
This car is a beast, I never had any problems like these other reviewers, the only problems I have ever had with this car is the with the catalytic converter, and the sunroof always gets stuck, but the sun roof has gotten stuck in every car I have ever scene with a sunroof. So that's not to go against the car. Back to the cat/converter, I had to replace that twice thus far to pass emissions inspections, its in a bad spot (very low to the ground) I find rust takes its toll faster then most other cars, and it is about 700 each time to fix /after labour (usd) other then that I love this, and will be getting another VW in the future.
BAD RELIABILITY AND SERVICE
TOMYUBU, 6/19/2002
I brought 1999 GTI VR6 back in Jan 2002. It had 35,800 miles. After 1 day, the cruise control stop working. The dealer fixed it for free. Then about 2 months later, driver side power window stop working. I fixed it and cost me close to $400. Then about a month after that Check engine came on. The oxygen sensor went bad. Three weeks later, while my brother was driving it, I believe the timing belt went bad, and he had to tow the car. Other than these numerous problems, its an ok car. The VW dealer ship was not helpful at all, and when my brother made a compliant about it to the VW customer care, the operator was very rude.
Your windows WILL stop working.
fiebke, 5/9/2002
I've had this car for a year, and would love it if the power windows haven't ceased working THREE times and if I hadn't found someone waiting with me at the dealership while getting it fixed who had the same problem. It would bother me if VW would admit to the problem with the design and fix it. VW dealerships are the most arrogant I've ever dealt with.
fun but unreliable
vp, 8/14/2002
It's fun to drive and is thoughtfully designed. You can feel the quality build compared to other cars in it's class. However, my GTI has had numerous problems over the past three years. odometer replaced. A/C leaked into passenger side. replaced air intake/oxygen sensor(very expensive), which is related to it's problem with emission standard. windshield washers frequently clogged.
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Features & Specs

MPG
18 city / 26 hwy
Seats 0
5-speed manual
Gas
174 hp @ 5800 rpm
MPG
21 city / 28 hwy
Seats 0
5-speed manual
Gas
115 hp @ 5200 rpm
MPG
17 city / 24 hwy
Seats 0
5-speed manual
Gas
172 hp @ 5800 rpm
See all Used 1999 Volkswagen GTI features & specs

Safety

IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Not Tested
  • Roof Strength Test
    Not Tested
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Not Tested
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test
    0

More about the 1999 Volkswagen GTI
Used 1999 Volkswagen GTI Overview

The Used 1999 Volkswagen GTI is offered in the following submodels: . Available styles include VR6 2dr Hatchback, GLX VR6 2dr Hatchback (midyear), and GLS 2dr Hatchback (midyear).

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